Last week I felt Daniel had dropped the ball when writing Detective Comics #1 (though some newer readers like Comic Kata thought otherwise). This week Tomasi is the one taking on the Batman oriented issue in Batman & Robin.
To begin, I want to say I was also a big fan of Dick and Damian’s run together, and my biggest concern about this new Batman & Robin is the mixing of Bruce’s Batman with Damian’s Robin. I also want to state I enjoyed at least most of Tomasi’s run on the previous Batman and Robin title, so I did go into this one with some faith. So time to get rolling!
This issue starts off seeing what appears to be the Moscow Batman (who oddly reminds me of Jason Todd’s Batman during Battle for the Cowl) being taken down from someone who claims to be “Nobody”. If that is the character’s name is a little unclear to me at this moment. We then jump to Wayne Manor. This part mostly I think is done for the benefit of new readers who aren’t familiar with the story of what drove Bruce to become Batman, and also to set up a little bit of the relationship Bruce and Damian have. Pretty much Bruce is preparing to tell Damian fully what happened to his parents. Damian on the other hand is a bit snippy stating he already knows, that he thinks Bruce doesn’t trust him (which at the time Bruce denies it), and that Damian thinks Bruce constantly making tributes to death as a waste of time. For now Bruce mostly ignores Damian as they go through the sewers of Gotham to the point Bruce’s parents were killed and he recollects the night it happened, but that he plans to move on finally as well as letting us know that Park Row is about to be restored into a place where people should be able to work and feel safe at again. During these scenes despite Damian constantly mouthing off, it just didn’t fully come across as being the Damian we got to know when he was teamed up with Dick.
Alfred soon calls them to inform about a matter at Gotham U that needs their attention, and so the new duo races off to stop a group stealing irradiated fuel. The fight is well handled and despite Batman often chastising Robin, we see that they mostly appear to work well together. Or so it would seem through the point Batman uses a Batarang to give Damian a hand hold to keep from falling. As some of the thieves escape though we soon get to see why Damian thought earlier that Bruce didn’t trust him. Robin takes pursuit and Bruce first tells him “No, don’t follow them without me.” From there Batman continues over comms to tell Robin to not continue after them, though Robin doesn’t listen and the escapees it seems end up accidentally shooting one of the cans of irradiated fuel killing themselves.
After Batman manages to keep the fuel rods from blowing up, he then meets back up with Robin to again chastise him. Robin now mouths back more in a manor I’m use to finally in which it really seems full on like it is Damian. I’d assume at the start he may have just been trying to hold back a little to keep from angering Bruce. Mostly though the kid points out two things: that he isn’t Tim, Jason, or Dick as he was trained since birth to do work like that, and that even Dick had trusted him (giving us our first hint in the new 52 that Damian and Dick worked together in the past and which could be taken further to guess that Dick probably did act as Batman for a while) and asking why Bruce can’t trust him. To contradict what he said at the start of the night, Damian is now told that he has “to earn it” and that he’ll inform Damian when the boy has earned it. The comic then cuts back to the Moscow Batman and Nobody just before Moscow Batman is killed and to set up the fact that Nobody (assuming that is his name) is working on destroying what can only be assumed as Batman Incorporated and that his next target is Bruce Wayne.
This is a very solid issue which I’ll definitely keep up with in later issues, at least if Tomasi can continue writing stories like this. It does a nice job explaining to new readers what got Bruce into being Batman, his relationship with Damian (as well as good insight into Damian himself), and gave us a nice bit of action while setting itself up to continue the story in later issues. The duo between Damian and Bruce is made pretty clear from the start though that it is more of a father son thing than partners, and at the end is fully stated by Batman that Damian is not his partner but his son. This is giving us a new take on the duo of Batman and Robin, though one I have to admit I was expecting since I first heard about this relaunch and that the new Batman & Robin would be Bruce and Damian. Despite having expected it, I do think Tomasi does a great job handling the relationship.
Great art, great story… My only complaint on this is that I just don’t think the partnership hits quite the same level as Dick and Damian’s previous Batman and Robin. Mostly I loved seeing Dick grin and let Damian make mistakes and be a Batman who was generally easy going while Damian’s Robin was typically the more darker of the two. Still as I said earlier, Tomasi does a great job writing this new duo. I can only wonder how Tomasi will continue to have this relationship evolve, and hope that there will be some team ups between Nightwing and Robin.